Independent Pursuits: Chess

IMMEDIATELY AFTER the 10th Goodricke Open in Calcutta, several players moved on to Dhaka in Bangladesh for a closed tournament, the fourth United Insurance International, running from 19 February to 3 March. This 13-player event averaged 2,482 (Category 10) with six assorted foreign players, five Bangladeshis and two Indians. Like the Goodricke Open the tournament is connected to the Lawrie group, of which Duncan Lawrie, the staunch sponsors of the England team is the hub, and has a strong English connection with Julian Hodgson, winning in 1993, and Mark Hebden, in 1995.

This time, the organisers attracted an even stronger Englishman: none other than Nigel Short. Outgrading everybody else by more than 100 points, Short was naturally the overwhelming favourite but the spectacular loss below in the eighth round set him back on his heels and he overtook the tiring leader, the Belarussian Yuri Shulman, only in the final round, to take the cup on tie-break.

The final leading scores were Short and Shulman, 8.5/12; Ehlvest and Wojtkiewicz, 8.0; and Zagrebelny, 7.0. The leading Bangladeshi, Ziaur Rahman, was sixth, on 6.5, while Niaz Murshed whom he supplanted (at one time he was very promising and indeed beat me in the only game we've played) was only 10th equal on 4.5.

It seems unfair to give the winner's only loss, but it is sensational.

In this incredibly sharp variation, everything is on a knife edge. I imagine that in the diagram, Nigel thought that 18 f5 was forcing a win though 18 Qh8+ is also far from clear eg: Kd7 (not 18 ...Rg8? 19 Qxg8+ Nxg8 20 h7) 19 Qf8 (if 19 h7 still Rh6) Qc4 20 h7 Rxg5 21 fxg5 Qg4+ 22 Ke1 Qxg2 23 h8Q Qg3+ forces perpetual check.

As early as 21 ...Rh2, the black attack already seems decisive. After 23 ...Rxg2 Black is threatening 24 ...Qd3+! 25 cxd3 c2 mate! Short should have tried 24 Qe8+ Kxe8 25 h8Q+ Kd7 26 Qh3 but after Rxc2! 27 Qxf5 (27 Kxc2 Ned4+ forces mate ) 27 ...Rg2 28 Qxf7+ Kd8 29 Qf6+ (White can throw in 29 Bg5+ Rxg5 but it doesn't help) 29 ...Kc7 30 Qe7+ Kb8 White has run out of checks and will soon be mated.

White: Nigel Short

Black: Neeloptal Das

French Winawer

1 e4 e6

2 d4 d5

3 Nc3 Bb4

4 e5 c5

5 a3 Bxc3+

6 bxc3 Ne7

7 Qg4 Qc7

8 Qxg7 Rg8

9 Qxh7 cxd4

10 Kd1 dxc3

11 Nf3 Nbc6

12 Ng5 Nd8

13 f4 Bd7

14 h4 Qc5

15 h5 Bb5

16 Bxb5+ Qxb5

17 h6 Rg6

18 f5 Nxf5

19 Qh8+ Kd7

20 h7 Rh6

21 Re1 Rh2

22 Nxe6 Nxe6!

23 Qxa8 Rxg2

24 Ra2 Ne3+

25 Bxe3 Qb1+

26 Bc1 Rd2 mate